In this “preindustrial” era of synthetic biology, it’s hard to know the limitations of engineered biological systems. Yet, it’s important to note that a full physical understanding of how biological parts interact and operate may not be necessary for realizing synthetic biology as an established engineering discipline. In fact, metallurgy became an established craft, allowing us to reliably fashion metals, long before an atomistic picture of the materials was uncovered. Similarly, our understanding and practice of biology has matured to an exciting point: we are poised to establish reliable design rules for building on nature.
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